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How Not to Struggle With Negative Experiences

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How Not to Struggle With Negative Experiences

Life is hard — way harder than anyone thought it would be. When you were younger, you dreamed of the world being your playground, and you were told that you could do anything and be anyone you wanted. Somehow, though, things haven’t been the smooth sailing you wanted them to be. The world seems to conspire against you, and the last thing you want to hear is “Cheer up!”

Still, there are a couple things you might not notice about your situation. Next time you’re down, maybe the following will provide motivation:

Not everything is bad.

It’s a well accepted fact that bad news makes for sensational television ratings. The fact that something is negative catches a lot more attention than something positive in the same vein, and that’s because it’s easy to see things in a negative light. However, that should not distract you from the bigger picture.

Resist the tunnel vision that results from constant negativity. Remember that even though there’s a lot of really nasty stuff going on, you’re surrounded by some pretty awesome stuff, as well.

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Other people aren’t you.

No one likes being compared to another person. What makes it even worse, if that’s even possible, is when you do it to yourself.

“Sarah and I were in the same graduating class, but she’s a successful business owner and I am not” is essentially mental suicide. Every experience in any person’s life is like rolling a handful of dice. You don’t get the same kind of dice, the same amount of them, or the same number of re-rolls as anyone else because everyone else is not you! Sarah rolled ten sixes, and you only rolled seven.

“Sarah is therefore better than me!” you might say. To be fair, she may have something over you — in that specific instance. However, you still rolled seven sixes! That’s an insanely high number, and you did well rolling it.

Stop comparing yourself to another person and you will realize that you are way more awesome than you give yourself credit for.

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Failure isn’t where the game stops.

So you tried something new, but you didn’t follow through. Frustrated at yourself, you stop trying. As a result, your quality of life goes down immensely. You’ve given up on it, though, because you don’t see the point (since you failed the first time).

Now, look at that same story again. But this time, set the main character as a 5-year-old version of yourself. The outcome is very different, I bet: Your younger self tried to do a thing, failed, and then tried it a different way until he or she figured out how it worked. There were surely many, many failures along the way, but that version of you didn’t see failure as the end of the road.

Now, you’re an adult. The things you are trying are much more complicated than 5-year-old you. However, your behaviour should not change in the slightest — when you fail at something, that’s just more information in your data bank. You know that method does not work, so try another one! And another one after that! Do this until you figure it out.

Giving up is for lesser beings, and you sure aren’t one of those.

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The past is way back there.

There is not a human alive or dead that has never made a choice they regret. Whether it was something so small as a purchase you later decided was a bad idea, or something gargantuan, like the weird tryst you had with the foreign exchange student during Club Rush in sophomore year, it’s there. And you’re treating it like a big, swollen thumb.

Knock that off immediately and you will see just how much your life improves. The most important thing to take away from this idea is that your past is not what makes you who you are. The things that happened to you way back there are just that — in the past. You cannot change what happened to you, but you can definitely change how it affects you in the present and whether it will dictate who you are in the future.

You are alive right now, and right now is all you get. You can’t go back, and the future is coming at its own pace. Don’t worry about the other two points — this one, right now, is the important one.

Everything that happens in your life is valuable.

My personal life’s philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: No experience is a wasted one if it leads to a story you can tell.

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Did you get kicked out of your apartment and have to spend three weeks living in your car while you tried to find a new place? Story time. Did your bank account get stolen by a scammer and used to purchase a yacht? Story time. Did you lose your best friend to a petty squabble, and now you won’t even talk any more? Story bloody time! The stuff that seems bad now is the stuff you will tell stories about in the future.

I cannot stress this enough: Everything in your life gives you purpose somehow, even if it’s something terrible. It is up to you to decide exactly which stories to tell — but your responsibility lies first in getting the stories to happen so that you can tell them. Every story needs conflict, needs adverse contact with some negative force. That way, when the good bits are there, you really know that they are the good bits because they compare to the other bits of your story and give it perspective.

It’s all about perspective.

See your life through your own eyes.

If you let someone else tell you your life is terrible, then you might as well believe them. Never, ever take that from another living being. Your life belongs to you, so you get to decide whether it’s good or not. You may not always get the exact things you are looking for when you come to the temple, but the temple welcomes you anyway, and you cannot deny its hospitality.

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Of course, negative things happen. Of course, they are terrible and dreadful. But, maybe, those negative experiences are the real link between the happy and the sad.

Featured photo credit: bryan… via flickr.com

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